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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Former Chichester Shopkeeper Sentenced over Fake Goods

  • March 28, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • Surelock assisted West Sussex Trading Standards in this successful prosecution

    A SHOPKEEPER has avoided jail for selling fake Cath Kidston goods in a city centre shop.

    Hosein Vafaie,22, of Blenheim Place, Brighton, pleaded guilty to selling fake products, including counterfeit clothing and accessories at Gift Express, which used to be based in East Street, Chichester.

    After pleading guilty in January to six charges, West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards said he was sentenced last week at Worthing Magistrates’ Court.

    He was sentenced to 11 weeks in custody, suspended for 12 months.
    1391611648
    Counterfeit products seized in Chichester at Gift Express (now closed) in East Street. PICTURE SUPPLIED BY WEST SUSSEX TRADING STANDARDS

     

    Trading Standards seized 450 items between February and March, 2014.

    “The seized items were sent for examination and were all confirmed as counterfeit,” said a Trading Standards spokesman.

    David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for residents services with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “The sale of counterfeit products is harmful to local traders, particularly in the current economic climate.

    “When purchasing counterfeit products, residents are likely to be unaware of the origin of such items, particularly if they are not subjected to the stringent quality controls you would expect from a genuine product.

    “This is another positive outcome for consumers in West Sussex and, of course, our local businesses so I would like to thank our Trading Standards team for another excellent job.”

    The fake goods bore well-known brands, such as Cath Kidston and Obey.

    Vafaie was also handed an 18-week curfew to be monitored by an electronic tag and ordered to pay a contribution of £1,500 towards legal costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

    West Sussex County Council urged anyone concerned about the sale of counterfeit goods or a possible scam to contact the Citizens Advice 
Consumer Service for advice on 03454 04 05 06.

    People can also report incidents direct to West Sussex Trading Standards by going to its website which is at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport

    http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/former-chichester-shopkeeper-sentenced-over-fake-goods-1-6659466

     

     

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    by dave

ACG (The Anti-Counterfeiting Group)

  • March 23, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • ACG (The Anti-Counterfeiting Group)

    The trade in fakes has never been more prolific, mainly because of the exponential rise in counterfeiting activities on the internet in recent years. It is now a global epidemic, posing major threats to consumers and national economies, and funding other crimes such as drugs, guns and people smuggling. Interpol has also reported evidence of links to terrorist organisations, in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    ACG’s members are under constant attack from the counterfeiting of their genuine products. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

    ACG represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK.

    We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration.

    For further information visit our website or email: [email protected]

    • Website

      http://www.a-cg.org/

    • Industry

      Nonprofit Organization Management

    • Type

      Nonprofit

    • Company Size

      1-10 employees

    • Founded

      1980

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    by dave

Security Guard Fraud Exposed by BBC Undercover Researchers

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  • Thousands of licensed security guards could be working in the UK fraudulently after buying qualifications for cash, a BBC investigation has found.

    Jobseekers must sit mandatory exams to get a Security Industry Authority card.

    But undercover researchers found colleges happy to sit or forge exams for untrained students for a fee.

    With a fraudulently obtained SIA licence, a researcher got a job offer at a power station and an interview to guard Canary Wharf.

    Keith Vaz MP called it “a major scandal” and “one of the most shocking things I’ve seen in all the years I’ve chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee”.

    Industry insiders had told the BBC large numbers of colleges were willing to help students cheat security exams.

    One former SIA employee, speaking anonymously, said a high number of colleges were breaking the rules.

    He went on: “Thousands of people [are] working in the industry illegally, having obtained accreditation illegally.”

    The BBC sent an undercover reporter posing as a student to Ashley Commerce College, in Ilford, east London.

    The college offered to “fast track” the researcher to becoming a qualified bodyguard – which the SIA says should take 140 hours of training.

    Bodyguard
    What bodyguard training should look like: top firm Hawki practise extracting a client, firing blanks

    Asked whether it involved training, manager Haji Yunis said: “No, you only have to do the paperwork.”

    The researcher was introduced to security trainer Tony Bainbridge, who told him to turn off his phone before reading out answers to exams and instructing him to copy large sections of somebody else’s exam.

    A would-be bodyguard was present, having the answers dictated to him so he could be fraudulently licensed.

    Mr Bainbridge boasted: “You’re doing 14 days [training] in three hours.”

    Canary Wharf
    With a fraudulent licence a researcher got a job offer at a power station and an interview at Canary Wharf

    He ordered the pair to falsify the date of the exam – and even told the BBC researcher to write that he was “intermediate at martial arts”, despite it being made clear he had had no martial arts training.

    Mr Bainbridge is one of the UK’s most respected security trainers. He spent more than a decade in the Army, and three years as a contractor security training manager at Birmingham International Airport.

    ‘Changed man’

    Mr Yunis responded: “All your allegations are strenuously being denied, as ACC staff has [sic] never been engaged in malpractice.

    “All our students attend the courses, get trained by qualified trainers and take the exams.”

    Mr Bainbridge made no comment.

    The London School of Social Studies in East Ham also offered the corrupt service. An employee told the researcher: “We’re going to do your exam for you.”

    SIA card
    The BBC obtained an official SIA licence for an untrained researcher through a fraudulent process

    After being approached by the BBC, its manager admitted fraud had gone on and claimed he was now a “changed man” as a result of his company being exposed.

    Fraudulent use of SIA cards carries a maximum jail sentence of six months.

    To illustrate the sensitivity of jobs an SIA card enables a holder to do, the BBC set about applying for roles with the fraudulently obtained card.

    An offer of employment was made by a major power station – a vital part of the UK’s national infrastructure.

    The SIA card was sufficient to get the researcher vetted, with minimal background checks made.

    ‘Enormous concern’

    The researcher also passed an exam to guard Canary Wharf – a high profile potential terror target – and got an interview for a job.

    He made it on to both sites without being searched, or made to pass through a metal detector.

    Terrorism and security expert Crispin Black said both organisations would be “having kittens”.

    He said: “Canary Wharf has to be one of the grand targets – the fact even low level people would have access there is cause for enormous concern.

    “The regulatory system needs to be sharper and more vigorous. It looks very easy to produce bogus qualification.”

    Mr Vaz MP vowed to raise the issue with the home secretary at the next Home Affairs Select Committee.

    He said: “I’m horrified. We’re talking about a major scandal in Britain’s security industry.

    “The Home Office needs to act extremely urgently.”

    ‘Zero tolerance attitude’

    A spokesman for the SIA, which reports to the Home Office, said: “We take allegations of training malpractice seriously.

    “When the BBC shares the information it is holding on training malpractice, we will take immediate action against the licensed individuals concerned in order to protect public safety.”

    The certificates the BBC obtained during its investigation were issued by the examining board Industry Qualifications, which awards them based on exam papers and other information received by assessment centres.

    In a statement it said: “IQ welcomes the BBC investigation and will mount a full investigation into the conduct of the centres concerned, following the broadcast of the programme.

    “IQ takes a zero tolerance attitude towards malpractice, and will involve the police if fraud is evidenced and take appropriate civil action.

    “Our first concern will be to withdraw certification from candidates where doubts exist, and work with the affected students to undertake re-assessment quickly.”

    The BBC has destroyed the SIA card it obtained. Its researcher did not commence any work obtained with the licence.

    You can watch more on this on Inside Out London on BBC One on Monday, 23 March at 19:30 GMT, and nationwide on the iPlayer for 30 days thereafter.

    Additional reporting by Syed Fayaz.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31876590

     

     

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    by dave

Operation Broadway Goes Public to Stop Investment Fraud

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  • A London-wide clamp down on suspected investment frauds operating out of some of the Capital’s most iconic buildings in the heart of the UK’s main financial districts has taken place.

    City of London Police, City of London Trading Standards and Metropolitan Police have visited a number of office premises in the Square Mile, Canary Wharf and Westminster as part of a long-term, coordinated, intelligence-led drive to uncover suspected boiler rooms and inform the virtual and serviced office providers that are unknowingly providing criminals with prestige addresses from where to work and promote their scams.

    Last year (Oct 2013-Sep 2014) more than £1.73 billion was reported to Action Fraud that had been lost to fraudsters by 5252 investors across the UK, lured into handing over anything from a few pounds to several hundreds of thousands of pounds. The City of London Police, which is home to Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, has also used its expertise and access to millions of reports of fraud to calculate that each City-based boiler room is making, on average, almost £1.25 million.

    Investment fraud victims are duped with the promise of being able to make high percentage returns on investments when the reality their money is being used to cover the running costs of the boiler rooms and fund a life of excess and luxury for the criminals.

    ‘Operation Broadway’ has been set-up specifically to tackle this organised criminality and today (March 19) the multi-agency taskforce, which also included agents from the Financial Conduct Authority, the HMRC and Tri-Region Scambusters, went into a number of premises across London.

    Subsequent checks of company lists directed the teams to a number of serviced offices suspected of being involved in some sort of investment scam.

    Workers were warned of the consequences of being found to be a part of criminal operations that cold-call people across the UK with bogus investment opportunities in commodities such as art, wine, diamonds and precious metals.

    As the National Policing Lead for Fraud, the City of London Police has the advantage of being able to operate across agencies and jurisdictions to set-up and execute large scale operations like Operation Broadway, which is now an important component of the force’s overall strategy aimed at bringing organised crime to its knees.

    The ‘day of action’ also had uniformed City of London Police and Metropolitan Police officers joining staff from partner agencies in distributing thousands of flyers outside London transport hubs during morning rush hour and the lunchtime break.

    The leaflet campaign was focused on an appeal for office workers to be on the look-out for criminal groups who set up shop in their buildings and work around the clock attempting to pressurise people into handing over their savings and unwittingly become the latest victim of a crime that damages and destroys lives.

    Tell-tale signs of an office being used as a fully functioning boiler room include companies that make up front cash payments and choose short-term leases, conduct unusual hours of business and do not display their name in reception areas.

    Workers tend to be young, brash and unruly, use false names for themselves and the company they are supposed to be representing and spend lots of time reading from pre-prepared scripts.

    The serviced and virtual office sector have thousands of clients throughout the UK, providing facilities to legitimate businesses.  However, these facilities are also being exploited by investment fraudsters seeking prestige addresses for their boiler-room activity . This is when the virtual and serviced office sector run the risk of being criminal enablers.

    While seeking to disrupt boiler room activity Operation Broadway is also focusing on education, working with industry to stop the fraudsters before they gain access to the facilities they need to run their operations.

    City of London Police Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, who is overseeing Operation Broadway, said:
    “Operation Broadway is a coordinated multi-agency partnership using intelligence to identify and target investment frauds in the making, before they properly get off the ground and really get their claws into people who are simply looking to put their money in a safe place where it will give them a decent rate of return.

    “To do this we are working closely with mail forwarding and serviced office providers, stressing the importance of them being fully aware of how their premises are being used and the need for them to act quickly if they have evidence that their office space has been turned into a base for a boiler room fraud.

    “At the same time we are also drawing in more and more intelligence from workers who are increasingly operating as our eyes and ears in London’s office blocks. We are finding this multi-faceted approach, also drawing on a combination of Police, Trading Standard, Financial Conduct Authority and HMRC powers, to be a powerful and effective way to tackle investment fraud and stop callous and ruthless criminals stealing and then blowing money that many of their victims had put aside to sustain them through retirement.

     DCI Andrew Gould of the MPS’ cyber crime and fraud team, FALCON, said:
    “Investment fraudsters are manipulative, persistent and convincing, so we’re working with our partners across London to raise awareness of these scammers. We are asking people at home to be wary of any unsolicited calls from people offering investment deals and people at work to be vigilant for any suspect activity in their office buildings.”

    City of London Corporation Public Protection Director, Jon Averns, who has responsibility for Trading Standards, said:

    “City of London Corporation Trading Standards is a key player in the clampdown on boiler room fraudsters, and the public can help us make sure we eradicate these abusive practices in the City. This day of action is raising public awareness so that we can all do our bit and report those that we think are involved in this miserable practice.

    “We’re creating a hostile environment for investment scammers who use City addresses to create an illusion of respectability that plays an important part in persuading people to part with their money. Consumers, who are often elderly and vulnerable, are actively targeted by these scammers, and persuaded to trust them and transfer very large sums – typically over £50,000 – in the hope of gaining a little more income from the savings. Our message is simple: don’t send your money to someone you don’t know, for a product you haven’t seen. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

    Georgina Philippou, Acting Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority, said:

    “Victims of financial scams often lose everything, with a ruinous effect on people’s lives. That is why it is so important that we work closely with the Police and other regulators to crackdown on scams. But we can’t act without intelligence: it is vital that everyone is on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of investment scams in order to protect themselves and to help us protect consumers. These scams are sometimes run from prestigious London addresses to give them an air of legitimacy.” 

    http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/operation-broadway

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    by dave

Fraudsters Looking to Utilise “Crowdfunding” to Scam People

  • March 18, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau’s (NFIB) proactive intelligence team has become aware that fraudsters are looking to utilise “boiler rooms” to target a type of investment known as “Crowdfunding”.

    Crowdfunding is a legitimate way in which people and businesses (including start-ups) can try to raise money from the public, to support a business, project, campaign or individual. However rather than asking a few people to make a large investment, Crowdfunding uses the internet to contact thousands if not millions of people to invest in smaller amounts.

    The method will usually involve those sourcing the funding to set up websites and use modern social media techniques alongside traditional networking such as family and friends to reach out to investors.

    The NFIB’s proactive intelligence team has said that this type of investment is growing rapidly in popularity, and being primarily internet based, will be exploited by “boiler rooms” looking for new ways to target well meaning investors.

    There are 3 types of crowdfunding:

    • Donation or reward crowdfunding – People want to donate because they want to support the organisation or cause. Rewards can be offered such as free gifts or concert tickets but “donors” often expect nothing back.
    • Debt crowdfunding or peer-to-peer lending – This enables investors to lend money to good causes whilst bypassing the banking system. Investors can expect their money to be returned with interest.
    • Equity crowdfunding – This is an investment in exchange for equity such as shares or a small stake in a business or project.

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) offers advice in relation to crowdfunding and they make it clear that whilst they do regulate peer to peer and equity based schemes, they consider them to be “high risk”. The FCA does not regulate any donation or reward crowdfunding. For more information about crowdfunding and the potential risks please see the information on FCA website.

    The NFIB’s proactive intelligence team spoke to convicted fraudster and they said: “Commission or charges of 80% for crowd funding and peer to peer will be the next biggest fraud boiler rooms will utilise as it’s difficult to regulate. Fraudsters are likely to return to the UK from the rooms abroad for crowd funding opportunities. This will be the next biggest scam for boiler rooms”.

    Protect yourself against investment fraud

    • If you’re considering any type of investment, always remember: if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. High returns can only be achieved with high risk.
    • If you get a call out of the blue, be wary; if in doubt don’t be polite, just hang up.
    • Take the time to seek independent legal or financial advice before making a decision.
    • Always check the credentials of the company you’re dealing with. Check for known fraudulent organisations at the FCA.

    http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/fraudsters-looking-to-utilise-crowdfunding-to-scam-people-mar15

     

     

     

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    by dave

Prince William Promotes UK Companies and Paddington Bear

  • March 3, 2015
  • 3 comments
  • Surelock are proud to be associated with Paddington Bear & Co Ltd as investigative agents

    The Duke of Cambridge has promoted British business and met Paddington bear as he continued his tour of China.

    The prince toured business exhibition the Great Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, calling it a platform for Britain’s “thriving creative sectors”.

    He attended the China film premiere of Paddington and met the famous bear on the red carpet.

    The prince also watched schoolchildren in a football session with coaches trained by England’s Premier League.

    Prince William at the China premiere of the film Paddington
    The duke, who is an avid Aston Villa fan and president of the Football Association, saw the pupils being put through their paces when he visited Nanyang High School in Shanghai.

     

    Football is about to become part of the national curriculum in China, and the British Council runs a scheme called Premier Skills which trains coaches and referees

    The duke was shown around by Paul Hughes, 33, a former coach at Reading, Millwall and Southampton football clubs, who travels the world with the British Council scheme.

    “The duke told the children that if they keep on working hard hopefully one day they might play in the Premier League,” he said.

    “He asked them if they knew who David Beckham was, and said that if they got involved in football then one day they might meet him.”

    The duke had been expected to take part in a five-a-side game, but only kicked one ball during the visit.

    During the second full day of his China tour, the prince also attended the British Council Global Alumni Awards, where he met Chinese graduates who had studied in the UK.

    Before giving a short speech, the duke met the nine Chinese finalists who told him being educated in the UK had made a huge difference to their lives.

    When one of the former students said he had studied law and was now a judge in Shanghai, William joked: “I’ll make sure I’m on my best behaviour while I’m here.”

    He visited the Shanghai Film Museum before the premiere of the Paddington film.

    Fans await Prince William's arrival at the Shanghai Film Museum
    Fans, human and canine, await Prince William’s arrival at the Shanghai Film Museum
    Prince William meets Paddington Bear at the China premier of the film Paddington in Shanghai on 3 March 2015
    Paddington the film is having its China premiere in Shanghai

     

    Organisations represented at the three-day Great Festival of Creativity include British Airways, Jaguar Land Rover and the BBC.

    Opening the festival on Monday night, the prince said: “It is a platform not only for our famed and still thriving creative sectors, such as film, art and media.

    “But it is also a platform for the creativity and inventiveness that British firms apply in a wide variety of sectors, like healthcare and education.”

    The final stop of his China tour will be Yunnan province, where he will visit an elephant sanctuary and nature reserve.

    The prince is on a tour of China and Japan to promote UK relations and business partnerships with both countries.

    The Duchess of Cambridge is not with Prince William because she is due to give birth to their second child in April.

     

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31704968

     

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    by dave